The world's favourite diplomat: A Man of Peace in a World of War.Kofi Annan Kofi Atta Annan (born April 8, 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1 1997 to January 1 2007, serving two five-year terms. He was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
By Stanley Meisler
[pounds sterling]19.99 Wiley
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m 0-471-78744-2
Including the incumbent, Ban Ki-moon Ban Ki-Moon (bän kē-mn), 1944–, South Korean diplomat, secretary-general of the United Nations (2007–), b. Chungju, grad. Seoul National Univ. (B.S. of South Korea, there have only been eight UN secretary-generals in the 62-year history of the organisation, set up in the immediate post-WWII period as an attempt to diffuse international conflicts and promote global peace and stability. Ki-moon's seven predecessors, all men, were Trygve Lie Noun 1. Trygve Lie - Norwegian diplomat who was the first Secretary General of the United Nations (1896-1968)
Trygve Halvden Lie, Lie of Norway, Dag Hammarskjold Noun 1. Dag Hammarskjold - Swedish diplomat who greatly extended the influence of the United Nations in peacekeeping matters (1905-1961)
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold, Hammarskjold of Sweden, U Thant U Thant
See U Thant. of Burma, Kurt Waldheim of Austria, Javier Perez de Cuellar Pé·rez de Cuél·lar , Javier Born 1920.
Peruvian diplomat who served as secretary-general of the United Nations (1982-1991). of Peru, Boutros Boutros-Ghali Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Arabic: بطرس بطرس غالي Coptic: BOYTPOC BOYTPOC ΓΑΛΗ) (born November 14, 1922) is an Egyptian diplomat who was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations from of Egypt, and Kofi Annan of Ghana whose term of office ended at the beginning of this year.
Describing his book as a political biography of Annan, Stanley Meisler helps to explain why he is generally considered one of the UN's most accomplished and dedicated secretary-generals. It also helps to explain why Annan was asked to chair the Mo Ibrahim Mohamed "Mo" Ibrahim (born 1946) is a Sudanese-born British mobile communications entrepreneur. He worked for several other telecommunications companies before founding Celtel. Prize for Achievement in African Leadership committee (see Briefs p9-10).
Meisler is the author of United Nations--The First Fifty Years, and has got to know Annan well over the many years he has covered both the UN and US State Department for the Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
Morning daily newspaper. Established in 1881, it was purchased and incorporated in 1884 by Harrison Gray Otis (1837–1917) under The Times-Mirror Co. (the hyphen was later dropped from the name). . As such a renowned UN journalist and author, he is particularly well placed to write this absorbing study of one of Africa's most distinguished diplomats, although he makes it clear that this is not an authorised biography,
Nevertheless, in his introduction to the book, Meisler states that Annan did co-operate with the project, encouraging his staff and friends to meet with the author. But Annan did not have prior sight of the book before its publication and had no say regarding its contents. "I have tried to present a frank and illuminating picture of a complex man based on what we know of his acts and words," Meisler explains. "There is very little psychological speculation in the book ... is also very little political science theorising. Annan is not an ideologue i·de·o·logue
An advocate of a particular ideology, especially an official exponent of that ideology.
[French idéologue, back-formation from idéologie, ideology; see or an academic theorist."
There may be little psychological speculation, but Meisler devotes enough of this book to Annan's youth to give the reader an insight of the man's formative years.
Annan's father, Henry Reginald Annan, was a Fante chief and an executive of the United Africa Company, a subsidiary of Unilever, with the primary responsibility of purchasing cocoa. After retirement, he served as chairman of the Ghana International Bank and other government agencies and won election as governor of the Ashanti Province.
Annan senior was in the habit of holding mock trials on those occasions that his children misbehaved mis·be·have
v. mis·be·haved, mis·be·hav·ing, mis·be·haves
To behave badly.
v.tr. , and it seems that the elders of the family liked to bombard bom·bard
tr.v. bom·bard·ed, bom·bard·ing, bom·bards
1. To attack with bombs, shells, or missiles.
2. To assail persistently, as with requests. See Synonyms at attack, barrage2.
3. the children with traditional proverbs. One of Annan's favourites is: "You don't hit a man on the head when you've got your fingers in his mouth." This kind of upbringing helped Annan develop his seemingly effortless diplomatic skills in later life.
Yet Annan's scholastic performance, we learn from Meisler, was not stellar. Sent away to board at Mfantisipim near Cape Coast Cape Coast, town (1984 pop. 57,224), capital of Central Region, S Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Known locally as Gna or Oegna, the town is an export port and fishing center. The town originated as an Ashanti trading center. , Annan was a popular student but did not excel academically nor score well enough to enter the University College of the Gold Coast. Instead, he went on to study at the new Kumasi Institute of Science and Technology. Meisler tracked down the then headmaster of Mfantisipim, now in his 90s and living in retirement in Paris, who described Annan as a 'late developer'.
Late it may have been, but develop he did--by 1959 Annan had won a scholarship from the Ford Foundation's Foreign Student Leadership Programme to study at Macalester University at St Paul, Minnesota in the US. Annan impressed the Dean of Macalester enough for him to comment that, in his estimation, Annan was destined des·tine
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.
2. for a lifetime of accomplishment--that he would be a world leader someday. But it would take some three decades for Annan to prove him right and reach the upper echelons of the UN.
From Macalester, Annan went on to study economics in Switzerland before, in 1962, accepting a job with the UN's World Health Organisation in Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. as an administrative and budget officer. He then took up a new appointment as an administrative officer in the personnel section of UN Economic Commission for Africa Noun 1. Economic Commission for Africa - the commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations that is concerned with economic development of African nations (ECA ECA
See: Export Credit Agency ) in Addis Ababa Addis Ababa (ăd`ĭs ăb`əbə) [Amharic,=new flower], city (1994 pop. 2,112,737), capital of Ethiopia. It is situated at c.8,000 ft (2,440 m) on a well-watered plateau surrounded by hills and mountains. , Ethiopia.
The ECA shared its headquarters at Africa Hall in Addis Ababa with the old Organisation for African Unity, and Annan recalls that he attended many of the OAUs meetings and was "... quite frankly sometimes appalled by the posturing and lack of realism that went on". His stint with the ECA was to last for seven years, interspersed with a one-year sabbatical at MIT MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an Alfred Sloan Fellow and one year's UN training in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of .
In 1972 he was posted back to Geneva, before getting his first taste of UN peacekeeping--assigned to temporary duty with the UN Emergency Force in Egypt following the 1973 Yom Kippur war Yom Kippur War: see Arab-Israeli Wars. . But 12 months later he was to try an abrupt change of career when he became the managing director of the Ghana Tourist Agency in Accra. According to Meisler it was an almost impossible job, and Annan returned to the UN within two years.
After a couple of years in the UN's personnel office in New York, Annan landed a plum assignment in 1980--head of personnel at the UNHCR UNHCR n abbr (= United Nations High Commission for Refugees) → ACNUR m
UNHCR n abbr (= United Nations High Commission for Refugees) → HCR m . This kick-started his rise up the UN ladder. By 1983, Annan had moved back to the UN's New York secretariat as director of administrative management services before being spotted by then SG Javier Perez de Cueller who promoted him to assistant secretary-general.
A stern test
The first Gulf War in 1990 was to provide Annan with his first major diplomatic test. Iraq's president Saddam Hussein had taken 900 UN personnel and their dependents hostage and Annan was tasked with accompanying Virendra Dayal, the SG's chief of staff, to travel to Baghdad and negotiate their release.
Although the UN and Western hostages were soon released, Annan became concerned for the half million Asian and African workers who had neither the money nor organisation to leave the country. In what was to later become a hallmark of his diplomatic style as SG, he quietly and efficiently made the rounds of the workers' embassies and helped organise the airlifts to get them home.
By the time that Boutros Boutros-Ghali took over as SG, the UN's peacekeeping operations had grown to 13 operations involving 55,000 blue-helmeted troops. A new post of deputy undersecretary-general for special political affairs (as the office of peacekeeping was then known) needed to be created to assist its head, Marrack Goulding, and Annan got the job.
This new job involved Annan taking responsibility for the Middle East and much of Africa, including Somalia where he counselled a much more interventionist policy than Goulding. When the SG backed Annan, Goulding moved out of peacekeeping and, in mid-1993, Annan was made undersecretary-general.
Meisler describes Annan's time as head of the department as an era of spectacular increases in peacekeeping operations in the UN's history, and one of spectacular falls. Annan launched six new missions within eight months but he had to get governments to provide troops and equipment for these missions, and he was not always successful in this task despite his well-known charm and persuasiveness.
He did not have, nor seek, a particularly high public profile. Nevertheless, when the Somali mission fell apart following the 'Black Hawk Down' debacle in Mogadishu, and the US administration placed the blame on Boutros-Ghali and the UN before lobbying for the SG's removal, Annan was singled out as the favoured replacement.
Meisler suggests that Annan learned from this episode the limitations of US willingness to participate in peacekeeping missions. Somalia also unleashed a mood of UN-bashing in the US that would linger and intensify under the Bush administration, throughout Annan's UN career and to this day.
Whilst this book covers Annan's role in all the major international events of the late 20th and early 21st century--such as Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and of course the Iraq invasion--it is in the analysis of Annan's performance as undersecretary-general in the 1994 Rwanda genocide where there is a concerted attempt to set the record straight regarding Annan's reputation.
The accusations that have haunted Annan over the Rwanda genocide stem from him allegedly ignoring a cable from the UN military commander in the country, Brigadier-General Romeo Dallaire. That cable warned him of the impending im·pend
intr.v. im·pend·ed, im·pend·ing, im·pends
1. To be about to occur: Her retirement is impending.
While Meisler accepts that Annan was deeply affected by the Rwandan experience, he argues that Annan's response to Dallaire's cable was driven by an overriding concern that the UN Security Council would be unlikely to authorise a military intervention. So Annan decided to try to deal with the threat in a diplomatic manner, instructing Dallaire and the UN's senior official in Rwanda, Jacques-Roger Booh Booh, to seek an urgent meeting with President Habyarimana and tell him that they knew of the plans of Hutu extremists.
Annan explains: "Often, shining a light on and telling those planning it at a government level that the international community knows what is being planned--'we are monitoring, we are going to deal with you harshly, and we know what you are up to'--sometimes is a very good deterrent." Yet Annan's hopes that Habyarimana would or could restrain the militant Hutus were dashed when the president's plane was shot down approaching Kigali airport, signalling the start of the genocide.
Dallaire himself has never criticised Annan over his response to the cable, and in Meisler's assessment, Annan acted "in a characteristic way. He was serious, conservative, cautious, sensitive to US politics, faithful to UN resolutions, and deeply averse to any dramatic gesture".
The author also tellingly adds that the UN, in the final analysis, is dependent on the members of the Security Council--and that means that the UN's failings over Rwanda, rather than being the responsibility of the UN undersecretary-general, should be seen as a failure of the Security Council members as a whole.